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Spotlight on hallways and stairways: How to expand your space

There are many spaces in the home that receive a lot less love than they deserve, and your hallway and top of stairway are likely two of them. These transitional spots are often neglected, and all the attention goes to the rooms it leads to like the bedroom, living room or kitchen. But this is a big (if common) mistake — hallways set the overall tone of the home and create ambiance from room to room. If it’s your front hallway we’re talking about, it’s also the spot that gives guests the first impression of your home, meaning it should be a space that shines and shows off your design and décor sensibilities.  

Fortunately, transforming a dark, cramped hallway or top of stairway is a lot easier than you think. Just follow these tips to create a cozy, elegant space where people pause, instead of dashing into the next room.

Infuse some personality.

Many of us think that because hallways are just a transitional space for passing through to more main living spaces, they should remain neutral and unobtrusive. But they’re actually a great space to experiment and add more colour and make a statement, especially if you’re trying to add colour to the rest of your home but are unsure where to start. Try painting the walls in a soft, bright colour, like pastel green or yellow to evoke nature and cheer up this traditionally darker space. For a more dramatic look, you can paint a horizontal band on the bottom half in a richer hue, like a navy blue or rich plum, while keeping the top part white or neutral. Not only will this add visual interest and lengthen the space, but the dark band at ground level will make scuff marks much less noticeable.

Add some natural light.

 Is your hallway and stairway dark and cramped? Let daylight shine into the core of your home by incorporating a gorgeous skylight. Natural light enlarges a space while eliminating glare and reducing shadows, which can confuse young children or seniors and lead to a stumble or fall. In addition, a skylight will open up your main hallway, shedding light into the bedrooms and reducing your need for electricity during the day. For your stairway, a skylight will shed light to multiple floors, allowing for a more even light distribution helping you feel safer on your stairs. It also creates an architectural feature, whether you have one or two or three skylights.

Consider a programmable venting skylight to create a natural multi-level ventilation system for a healthier, fresher and brighter home. This is especially important since nowadays, most of us spend up to 90% of our time indoors, where the air can be up to five times more polluted than the air outside. Known as the Indoor Generation, those of us who spend most of our time indoors are more prone to health issues like asthma and allergies. With a VELUX programmable venting skylight, you can take advantage of the stack or chimney effect to air out your home most effectively. The stack effect promotes skylights and vertical windows working together to enhance your home’s natural airflow and ventilation to achieve optimal indoor air performance. Plus, you’ll save on energy bills and give your home a healthy, bright and inviting feeling throughout the day.

If your home won’t allow for a skylight, you can opt for a Sun Tunnel skylight. It’s a quick and easy solution for bringing natural light into rooms such as hallways, stairways, bathrooms, kitchens, and even walk-in closets. With installation that requires no structural changes to the home, a sun tunnel is the easiest skylight for your new home or renovation.

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Other great ways to add some personality include wallpapering a section of the hallway in something funky and decorative, or adding a statement piece like oversized artwork or an industrial mirror. A mirror is an especially great choice because it will visually expand the space and reflect the natural light from the skylights.

Don’t be afraid to add furniture. 

This might seem counterintuitive because hallways can already be tight spaces but being selective and editing elements carefully makes all the difference. For example, adding a chair, console, bench or settee can take your hallway from bland and boring to warm and inviting or elegant and luxurious. Plus, these kinds of pieces can work double duty to be both functional and beautiful. In your front hallway or entryway, a bench with interior storage can be used to keep mittens, shoes, keys and other trinkets, resulting in clean lines and a decluttered space. Meanwhile, that same bench in the hallway between bedrooms can be used to store bed linens and towels. Another great idea is to use a comfy chair or settee in a hallway to turn it into a cozy nook for reading a book or magazine or doing some knitting.

If space is very tight and you can’t find furniture that fits right, try taking on a DIY project instead. Use some reclaimed wood to fashion your own console in just the right dimensions or reupholster a vintage armchair or step stool to make a seat that looks perfectly at home.

With these tips you’ll have any hallway looking fresh and ready for you, your family and your guests to admire, not pass over. Just remember to keep it light and bright and take fun risks.